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Ogden council discusses $175K for Merci boxcar restoration work

By Rob Nielsen - | Jun 8, 2023

Deborah Wilber, Standard-Examiner file photo

During a work session Tuesday, June 6, 2023, the Ogden City Council discussed setting aside $175,000 for renovations to the Merci Train boxcar.

OGDEN — The city’s Merci Train boxcar is moving closer to a renovation to save it and preserve it for generations to come.

During the Ogden City Council’s Tuesday work session, the board briefly discussed a $175,000 amendment to the 2022-2023 budget to take long-needed preservation measures on the Union Station attraction.

Lisa Stout, Ogden City comptroller, said the proposal comes at a pivotal time.

“I understand (Union Station is) having a 150-year celebration next year,” she said. “They’re anxious to have this boxcar restored before that happens.”

According to the meeting packet, the boxcar was a gift from France as part of the 1949 Merci Train, which honored each state’s contributions toward France’s rebuilding after World War II. Acquired by the Museums at Union Station in 2002, the car has experienced weathering damage over the past two decades.

“The Museums are committed to the long-term strategic preservation of this boxcar following a two-prong approach outlined by the State Historic Preservation Office,” Stout said. “First, we plan to hire a railcar historic preservation company to do a professional restoration of the boxcar, including the replacement of rotted wood, paint restoration and repair, and restoration of the original roof. Second, we plan to build a structural cover for the car to protect it from future damages from water and weather. This strategic approach will stabilize and preserve the car for decades.”

The general fund will be used for $100,000 while $75,000 will come from the Union Station Foundation.

Christy McBride, Ogden City Arts, Culture and Events division manger, said the car will be moving somewhat on the property.

“We plan to move it to the south side,” she said. “There is an area that was built to house it eventually and it just never did get moved to that area. There’s a round circular path where people can walk up and look at all sides of it. We plan to put it there and build a structure to protect it.”

No official action was taken during Tuesday’s meeting.


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